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ACCA Goes Literal - One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure #4

Are you excited? Here's our fourth instalment of ACCA Goes Literal and we're tackling a big issue in society - waste!


Holy Ignorance by Anna

‘I don’t want any of this junk lying around when I get back. Take care of it, Manuel’. The boy carries the stuff down; dusty books, a rocking chair, some old toys and a rug. From the corner of the street, the clunky truck appears. Manuel and Ricardo load the van. A firm handshake, then goodbye.


A few more streets to go through and a stop to grab a bite. Casa Paco is his favourite tavern up town. A tapa of stuffed olives and glass of house wine. Ricardo is feeling hopeful; wealthy people often ignore the value of their own stuff; he’s no collector but, today, a couple of his acquisitions may have earned him a big fat wad.

Crossing the city top to bottom and into the Gothic quarter. Ricardo pays a visit to the Virgin’s altar in the cathedral; lighting a candle for good luck. A few more minutes through narrow passageways and he has arrived. ‘Aurelia! Aurelia! Come see what I bring you, my friend’. The sound dragging feet announces Aurelia; dirty hands, dishevelled hair, coke bottle glasses and the bones of a seventy year old. Rubbing her hands on her apron, the restorer takes a quick look over Ricardo’s new stock. ‘I’ll take those two frames, that lamp and the rug. Take it in for me, will you Ricardo?’.


The other objects were just part of the game, a way to set the deal. Ragmen are no fools; betting for a single object reveals once’s interest, and that plays on the trader’s side. The Persian rug; that caught Aurelia’s eye. Her daughters get cleaning; dusting, washing, rinsing and drying the rug. Aurelia’s hands are reserved for the restoration; an arduous, time consuming task. February, March and April go by. May sees the job completed. Frilly fringes, revived patterns, the worn-out fabric has been filled up.


A finely dressed audience does small talks. Cocktails are served as snacks. ’Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats’. A young man conducts the session; the first item, a Persian rug. ‘This Persian beauty dates from the early nineteen century, it’s been recently fully restored and our valuation team has set the starting price at…’. Aurelia and her daughters watch from the back. A blond lady is the first one to raise her hand. Competition follows pronto; multiple players engage in bidding forth and back. The potential sum gets fatter and then surpasses the rug’s highest estimate amount. The blond lady’s next offer leaves the other bettors far behind. No one counterattacks. The Persian beauty has a new owner; Aurelia is rubbing her hands.


‘Manuel dear, take the rug for me and load it into the car.’


The Monkey, the Bird and The Shrew by Charlotte


There once was monkey and a bird who lived on a desert island. The island was patrolled by hungry lions, so all the small animals lived up in the trees to avoid them. The monkeys loved living in the trees, because there was lots of tasty fruit for them to eat. They would gorge themselves all day on papaya and bananas, and when they were thirsty they would crack open a coconut and drink the milk, before throwing down the empty husks to the forest floor.

The bird, who could fly and easily evade the lions, also spent much of its time in the trees. When the bird was thirsty she would swoop down to the river, dip her beak in the water and fly back up with her feet never touching the ground, and never slow enough for the lions to catch her. The monkey and the bird had finessed living on this island, however there were some animals for whom it was a perpetual struggle.

The shrew struggled to survive on the island. The lion liked them as appetisers, and would use their tails as tooth picks. The shrew would spend as much time as possible in the trees, but had to come down once a day to forage for food in the leaf litter, and when they were thirsty they would suck the dew from the underside of leaves. As a result, the shrews were always hungry and thirsty, and would often drop out of the trees when they fainted into the waiting jaws of the lions.

The shrews had a problem. The bird, had been watching the shrews for a while and asked how she could help. The shrews told her that they needed food and water, but weren’t fast enough to avoid the lions. So, the bird sat on her branch and thought all day what she could do to help. Sitting opposite, while she was thinking the monkey was supping from a coconut husk before throwing it to the floor. When the husk landed on the floor, the bird watched as a frog hopped inside the coconut and then bounced out again.

The bird had an idea.

She swooped down the floor, and picked up the husk in her beak. It was easy to carry, so she took off and made her way to the river where she scooped up a coconut full of water. The husk was heavier than she expected, but she managed to bring it back to the tree and to the shrew.

The shrew couldn’t believe his eyes when the bird arrived, and slurped at the water until he had drunk his fill. Then he jumped in the husk, and the bird carried him to the other side of the island away from the lions so he could hunt for food.

Later that evening, the bird asked the monkey if she could have his husks.

Sure, he said.

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